An Academic Study of Powerlifter Ray Williams’ Superhuman Body

If you know powerlifting, you know Ray Williams. He’s literally the strongest powerlifter on the planet, at least in the drug-tested International Powerlifting Federation, currently holding the IPF world records for the heaviest raw squat ever made (477.5 kilograms), heaviest raw deadlift ever made (392.5 kilograms), and highest raw total ever made (1105 kilograms). All of those records were made at last year’s Arnold Classic, but he was breaking his own records. At this year’s Arnold he made a 485kg squat.

He’s practically unequalled among humans, a genetic abnormality, something approaching superhuman. We’re not saying he doesn’t work harder than anyone, but there must be something unique about his body, right? He should be studied by scientists so we can know more about how he’s able to keep pushing the boundaries of human performance.

That’s what actually happened in the Kevser Ermin Applied Physiology Laboratory at the University of Mississippi. A group of scientists, led by Takashi Abe, invited Ray Williams for an MRI to get a better understanding of the physiology of the world’s strongest raw powerlifter. Then they realized they couldn’t fit the 400-pound Williams into their MRI machine, so they did an ultrasound instead.

Published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine with the title “Skeletal Muscle Mass and Architecture of the World’s Strongest Raw Powerlifter: A Case Study,” we learned a couple of interesting things about Ray Ray.

His estimated body fat is 24.3 percent

He walked into the place weighing 404 pounds at 6 feet tall, which means he’s carrying a little under 100 pounds of fat on this body — leaving over three hundred pounds of fat free mass. (138.6 kilograms, or 305.6 pounds to be precise.) The study notes that prior to this, the most fat free mass they’d ever seen on a person (in the published literature they’d studied) was a sumo wrestler with 109 kilograms.

Ray Williams is a very muscular dude. In fact…

He “may be very close to a physiologic limit with respect to muscle size and geometry.”

That was the stated conclusion of the study, which included results like, “muscle thickness and pennation angle of the vastus lateralis (one of the quadriceps muscles) were close to the highest values previously reported in the literature.”

We’re curious as to who had those higher values that were previously reported — probably an athlete focused entirely on hypertrophy.

[Watch Ray Williams take 1,003 pounds for an insane double here.]

The full study is available at this link, and while the whole thing mostly just notes how his muscles are very big and very strong, it’s still pretty cool to read scientists trying to grapple with the walking superman that is Ray Williams.

Featured image via @sbdapparel on Instagram.